Staples' Tips and Tricks for Managing Over 5000 Advocates in Influitive
It’s no secret—customers who feel appreciated make your best advocates. But nurturing those relationships can be a challenge as your advocate numbers rise. I'm here to share with you how I managed a super-sized Influitive AdvocateHub.
In August of 2015, I was a marketing Project Manager assigned to work on a new pilot— Staples advocacy program. The program quickly proved to be a hit among the customers, so as it grew, I transitioned into a full-time advocacy role. I became the Manager of Marketing Programs for Staples Business Advantage, one of the biggest office supply stores in the world.
Thanks to the growing internal support for the program and recent advocacy efforts, Staples' hub experienced tremendous growth. It grew from about 2,000 advocates last September to 4,500 by the beginning of January. It has approximately 5,800 advocates and continues to grow.
As the Staples' hub grew, we were happy that our advocacy marketing strategies helped maintain our lifetime hub engagement. Even when we jumped from 1,100 to 5,400 advocates, our engagement didn't drop. I think that means we were doing something right.
It’s a big job managing a hub of this scale, but with a little insight and patience, it’s absolutely doable.
If you are new to Influitive or advocacy marketing, I suggest educating yourself and learning about the full power of the platform from the pros. Here are two tricks that helped me get started:
- Trust the Influitive VIP Site: I didn’t know much about advocacy before I jumped into this role. The Influitive VIP site helped me interact with other marketing professionals and get ideas on how to get started. Reading everything I could in the Influitive Knowledge Base was a huge help. Immerse yourself in the Influitive Knowledge Base to ensure you are getting the most out of the tool. Pay special attention to the reporting information regarding techniques for automating your hub.
- Be Creative: Use the ideas you find on Influitive and other sites as a jumping off point. It’s OK to do something similar. But once you feel comfortable, don’t be shy. Be bold and try new and engaging techniques.
Don’t Underestimate the Value of Up-to-the-Minute Metrics
A lot of what I did was reporting. Especially when our program was young, it was important to make sure we were surfacing insights and successes to senior leaders to make sure they understood what we were doing and why. Once a week, I put together an insight email for managers that was circulated to our entire marketing team. It included insights that I found on the discussion boards, feedback on challenges, stats on advocates and tips and tricks that we are giving our advocates.
Don't underestimate the importance of regular, honest reporting. No matter how big or small your company is, keeping a functional information flow is integral to your success. Here are some tips on how you can improve and sustain your company’s reporting:
- Know What You Want: First and foremost, figure out the metrics and goals you have in mind for your company. Be specific. Are you looking for more impressions? Are you looking for a larger response from advocates? What’s important to you? With clearly defined goals in mind, your setup and execution will be that much easier.
- Design Your Process for Ease: On the level, reporting is extremely important, but it can also be kind of boring. Once you have your goals in mind, think of ways to make the process more efficient—I had a standard email template that I would update each month. The template included a list of monthly highlights, a section where I updated our engagement numbers, etc. It was a simple but complete way for me to disseminate large amounts of information without losing any personal productivity.
- Report in Sections: With rare exceptions, it can be kind of a struggle to get your coworkers to read every word of an email. Especially since reporting emails can be lengthy and filled with numbers. So, divide your reporting up into bite-sized sections that can help your readers focus on the incoming data that applies to their specific position.
The overarching idea is to create an environment that’s transparent, communicative, and result-oriented.
Engagement Tips and Tricks
- Content Is King: If it’s not new, interesting, or rewarding, there’s no reason for an advocate to share your brand with the world.
- Keep Things Interactive: Staples tries to do different things to mix it up. In the month of February, we did a month-long theme and offered hidden challenges throughout the month.
- Pay Attention to Your Most Active Advocates: Staples growing number of advocates makes nurturing a truly personal relationship with each of our advocates a challenge. That being said, by being mindful of who is most active and most successful in the hub, the team can focus their attention on those people who go above and beyond and recognize their effort.
- Reward Participation: Customers love rewards and it typically motivates them. For example, any advocate who participated fully in Staples' February experience got a surprise at the end of the month. Of course, you’re advocates shouldn’t be rewarded every time they visit your hub, but offering intermittent enticements is always a winning idea.
Managing Staples' advocacy program was a full-time job, but also one of the most rewarding and challenging positions I’ve ever held. I recommend to anyone who is growing and managing a large advocacy hub to get and stay organized, have clear goals, keep content fresh and most of all have fun. Staples’ hub is setup up for continued growth without sacrificing the intimate community that we’ve worked so hard to build. Every advocate should feel they are part of something special, and that’s exactly what I strived to achieve each day while at Staples.